John Boyne wins the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2018 for his 'sweeping masterpiece' The Heart's Invisible Furies


John Boyne has been awarded The Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2018 for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Boyne won out over five other novels – of which four were debuts – for the Glass Bell Award, which rewards ‘compelling storytelling with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised.’

The story of Cyril Avery, born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by an eccentric Dublin couple, and his search for an identity, The Heart’s Invisible Furies has been hailed as ‘tender, dark, hilarious, heartbreaking,’ with Boyne described as ‘a novelist at the top of his game.’

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Also shortlisted were Gail Honeyman, for her remarkable breakout bestseller Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; Nathan Hill, for his multi-stranded mystery The Nix; Imran Mahmood, for You Don’t Know Me, in which a young man accused of murder addresses the jury directly; Ali Land for her chilling thriller Good Me Bad Me, about the daughter of a child-killer; and Laura Purcell for her terrifying ghost story The Silent Companions. Reflecting an extraordinary range of themes, styles and concerns, such as loneliness, religious intolerance and the flaws in our justice system, the award has showcased the extraordinary breadth of contemporary fiction currently being published.

Boyne was awarded the Glass Bell at a party held at Goldsboro Books in central London on the evening of Thursday 27th September, receiving £2,000 and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The prize was judged by Goldsboro Books founder and MD David Headley and his team at the bookshop.

David Headley said:

‘I set up the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award to celebrate the very best storytelling, and I am proud of the shortlist we assembled – six extraordinary novels, all compellingly told, and written with distinct, perfectly realised voices. Choosing this year’s winner was an immense challenge, but John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies really stood out to us. An odyssey exploring 70 years of Irish history, and changing attitudes to sexuality and relationships, it had me laughing aloud one minute, then on the verge of tears the next. Powerful and poignant, but also genuinely funny, it is a tour de force from a writer at the top of his game. John is a worthy winner of this year’s Glass Bell Award.’

Fellow judge and literary agent Broo Doherty said:

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was hilarious, tragic, beautifully written and ultimately the most compelling novel I have read for a while - the atmosphere was superb, the characters highly charged and the plot fiendishly topical. In essence, it tickled my Irish genes.’

Fellow judge Emily Glenister said:

‘I fell in love with Cyril’s story from the very first page and couldn’t put it down until I had turned the last. It is rare that a book hits me straight in the feels from the get-go and so I knew The Heart’s Invisible Furies was very, very special. Boyne is easily one of the finest writers of his generation, and I am thrilled he has received the Glass Bell Award 2018.’

Founded in 2017 by David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, the Glass Bell Award is given annually to a compelling novel with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised.

Now in its second year, the Glass Bell is the only award to reward storytelling in all genres, from romance and crime to historical and speculative. The winner receives £2,000, as well as a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell.

The winner of the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell 2017 was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre). The novel was chosen for its unflinching account of the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain whilst the soldiers fought on the front line.

For all media enquiries please contact Sophie Goodfellow at FMcM Associates via or 020 7405 7422

Notes to editors

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he’s never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as a curious pet than a son. But it is all he has ever known. And so begins one man’s desperate search to find his place in the world. Unspooling and unseeing, Cyril is a misguided, heart-breaking, heartbroken fool. Buffeted by the harsh winds of circumstance towards the one thing that might save him from himself, but when opportunity knocks, will he have the courage, finally, to take it? 

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of nine novels for adults, five for young readers and a collection of short stories. Perhaps best known for his 2006 multi-award-winning book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John’s other novels, notably The Absolutist and A History of Loneliness, have been widely praised and are international bestsellers. His most recent book is A Ladder to the Sky, a novel about ambition and the price of success. His novels are published in over 45 languages.

For all media enquiries please contact Sophie Goodfellow at FMcM Associates via or 020 7405 7422